9/13/2013

A trip to Walt's Happy Place: Marceline, Missouri - Part 4

A trip to Marceline, Missouri last fall (September 2012). I originally wrote this trip report and posted it on www.disboards.com, but I thought it would be fun to share it here too. The trip report is broken into 4 parts:

Our next stop was the Walt Disney Elementary school. The old school was replaced with a new facility around 1960, and it was named after him. Apparently, they have some Disney related photos and artwork inside the school, but it was closed and you couldn't go in. It must be really cool for the students to say that they go to the Walt Disney school!!!

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Walt was the Chairman of Pageantry for the 1960 Winter Olympic games in California. He had one of the flag poles from the Olympic site sent to the school after the games were finished.

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Also, I read that he sent them a Mickey Mouse flag from Disneyland. And that the school is the only place outside of the theme park that is authorized to fly it. I don't know if they still fly it (or a newer version, or none at all), but it wasn't flying when we visited.

We spent a few minutes at the school and then headed out of town and over to the Dreaming Tree and Walt's Barn. They are sort of hidden out of the way, and you wouldn't find them if you weren't looking for them. They are on private property back behind Walt's boyhood home. Thankfully, the property owners welcome visitors. (I'm sure that they don't welcome strangers to the home, since they actually live there.)

There's a small parking area on the side of the road with a sign

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Instead of paraphrasing the significance of the tree, I'll just let you read the sign. Good stuff!

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As a group of Disney fans, it felt like we were making a pilgrimage to sacred ground!!!!

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Buddy pretending like he's in deep thought

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Unfortunately, the tree was hit by lightening a few times and is in pretty bad shape these days. (It's sort of sad, and reminds me of the "Giving Tree" storybook. Not in the sense that anyone has taken advantage of it or anything like that, but that it's happy when someone comes to pay homage to Walt and maybe it "straightens itself up a little" as they approach.) It probably won't be around much longer, so if you want to ever make the pilgrimage, don't wait around!!

On the positive side, they planted "The Son of Dreaming Tree" a few years ago. They even brought soil and water from Disney World for the planting ceremony. How cool is that!?!?!? (Extremely cool, if you ask me!)

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Here's the son (right) with the father (left).

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Now, on down the path to Walt's Happy Place....

The original barn is no longer standing. This replica was built in 2001 in honor of Walt's 100th Birthday. Apparently, Walt spent a lot of time and had a lot of fun in the barn as as kid. One of the stories has it that he held a circus in it and charged the local kids admission. Starting out as a showman at a young age

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The barn that was in his 1949 movie, "So Dear to My Heart" was designed according to his memories of the barn in Marceline. Then later, he created the barn again at his home in California. That barn is where he worked on his miniature Carolwood Pacific Railroad, sort of a precursor to Disneyland rides. (Also extremely cool!) The Carolwood barn still stands, and was moved to Griffith Park in LA. According, to the their websitehttp://carolwood.com/walts-barn/ the Carolwood barn is open the 3rd Sunday of every month. (Coincidentally, we'll be on our way to Anaheim from Yosemite on the 3rd Sunday this July, and Griffith park is right on the way. Looks like the stars might be aligned for us on this one!!!!)

Another cool thing is that inside the Marceline barn, everyone signs their name and leaves notes for Walt. There must have been thousands of signatures on on every square inch within reach.

This beam was signed by attendees of the 2001 Disneyania convention and shipped to the site when the barn was raised.

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We took a few minutes to read through some of the signatures and add our own. Such a cool idea!

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Rural Missouri can be truly beautiful, and this place was no exception! The gardens/landscaping around the area were really pretty.

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We still had a long drive back home and decided it was time to be moving on. But of course, we had to pull over for a snap shot of Walt's former home on the way out of town. It's so cool that the current owners are Disney fans and put a lot of work into keeping the magic alive. I believe the lady who owns the house also runs the museum in town. So awesome!!

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Finally, we "had" to stop in Columbia, MO on the way back to St. Louis for some Shakespeare's pizza!!!

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All in all, it was an outstanding day. I hope we can make it to Marceline again this year!

Toonfest or not, a trip to Marceline is definitely worth a day trip for anyone living in Missouri, or for someone who can spare a several hour detour as they pass through the state on Hwy 70. If you are more than a day trip's distance away, I'm not so sure I'd say the trip is worth it unless you are a true die hard Walt Disney fan. But if you have read this far, then you probably are indeed a die hard Disney fan, and you should go see it soon!

About The Author

Matt Bollinger